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Man Charged in $11 Million Fraud Misses Plea Hearing

A South Florida man charged with running an $11 million scam involving non-existent shares in companies including Facebook Inc. and Groupon Inc. failed to show up at a hearing where he was to plead guilty.

John Mattera, who operated the Praetorian Global Fund Ltd., told his lawyer that he accidentally locked himself out of his home this morning and missed the flight they were to take together from Fort Lauderdale to New York, the lawyer, Carl Schoeppl, told U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in Manhattan federal court today.

Mattera was charged last year with a two-year scheme to sell shares in special-purpose vehicles set up to hold stock in non-public companies that were expected to make initial public offerings. He has signed a plea agreement with prosecutors and is set to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering.

Sullivan, who called Mattera’s excuse for missing the hearing “pretty pathetic,” rescheduled it for tomorrow morning.

Last week the judge in a suit filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against Mattera found him and his mother, Ann Mattera, in contempt of court for violating an order freezing their assets.

U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel found that Mattera sold a Lamborghini automobile for $28,000, which he passed to his mother, in violation of the freeze. Mattera also borrowed $114,000 and transferred money to his mother to pay his expenses, Castel said.

Mattera faces as long as five years in prison on the conspiracy charge and up to 20 years on each of the other charges.

The case is U.S. v. Mattera, 11-CR-2947, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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